Festival of Ideas 2016: Future Perfect?

Published on 30 August 2016 by Mrs Fiona MacFarlane Categories: Senior School

Festival of Ideas posterNow in its second year, the Festival of Ideas is a series of lectures and seminars given by distinguished visiting speakers and staff of George Watson’s College.

The series of lectures takes its theme from the eighth Caritas Lecture which this year will be given on Wednesday 21 September 2016 by Professor, The Lord Winston of Hammersmith (perhaps better known as TV’s Robert Winston). The title of his lecture will be Future Perfect: Will we still be human in the next century? 

The title of the Festival of Ideas 2016 will therefore be “Future Perfect?” which lends itself to a number of interesting interpretations. The Scots Makar, Jackie Kay and the Chief Constable of Police Scotland, Philip Gormley are amongst a line up of external speakers and members of staff who will be exploring aspects of the theme.

The Caritas Lecture and the other events of the Festival of Ideas are all open to pupils, staff, parents and other friends of the School. Those interested in attending these events should contact Senior School Reception. Tickets for the Caritas Lecture are available now from Senior School Reception. â€‹

Download the programme (PDF).

Programme of Events

Wednesday 7 September – 12.45pm

Future Perfect? Sex and the Dystopian Novel
Melvyn Roffe , Principal of George Watson’s College

Lecture Theatre
The control of sex and reproduction are striking aspects of the dystopian future societies created by writers in novels of the 20th century. This lecture will explore the significance of sex in the dystopian novels of Aldous Huxley, George Orwell and Margaret Attwood and what it might suggest about our own (rather less dystopian) society.
Melvyn Roffe studied English Literature at the University of York, taught English at a number of schools in England and Wales and has been Principal of George Watson's College since 2014.

Friday 9 September – 1.35pm

The Future of Policing and Criminal Justice
Chief Constable Philip Gormley QPM
Music Auditorium

Chief Constable Philip Gormley was appointed to lead Police Scotland in 2015. He had served previously as the Deputy Director General of the National Crime Agency and prior to that his role was the Chief Constable of Norfolk Constabulary for three years. He is a former Deputy Chief Constable of West Midlands Police and also served as a Commander in the Metropolitan Police.

The Chief Constable has overall responsibility for the administration and management of police operations in Scotland.

Tuesday 13 September – 9.00am

A Future Perfect: Making Adventure a Way of Life
Mr Leon McCarrone
Music Auditorium

Leon McCarron is a Northern Irish adventurer and award-winning filmmaker who specialises in long distance, human powered expeditions. His adventures have been shown on National Geographic, and he is a Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society. Leon's first book, The Road Headed West (2014), details his bicycle journey across North America. Now an Amazon Top 10 bestseller.

Leon will be talking to us about his recent trip across China and will offer a strong message about all the possibilities that are out there, whatever our interests, and the importance of giving 100%.

Leon is a passionate storyteller and a firm believer in the power of an adventurous mind set. Adventure is all around us, everyday, and in his talks Leon explains, with humour and anecdotes from many thousands of miles on the road, the benefits of recognising and embracing this concept.

Wednesday 14 September – 12.45pm

Back to the Future – A Personal Road Trip Through the Art of the 20th Century and Beyond
Mr Nick Adair
Art Lecture Room

Nick Adair has been Head of Art at George Watson's College since 2008. He studied Fine Art at Norwich School of Art in the 1980s. He completed his Post-graduate certificate in art teacher training at Goldsmiths College London in 1991 and became Head of Creative Arts at John Ruskin College Croydon in 2000.

A malfunctioning time machine takes an art teacher back to 1973 to be reunited with his Kodak instamatic camera.

Friday 16 September – 1.35pm

21st Century Science and its Impact on our Lives
Professor Igor Rudan
Lecture Theatre

Professor Rudan has been working as an expert adviser for the World Health Organisation, UNICEF and The World Bank. He has led several large international projects, some funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, which have helped to reduce global child mortality from 11 million (in 2000) to under 6 million (in 2015). Thomson Reuters publishing company declared him one of the "World's leading scientific minds in 2015". The significance of Professor Rudan's work has been recognised by 20 national and international awards and his recent election to the Royal Society of Edinburgh.

Wednesday 21 September – 12.45pm

Future Perfect or Future Damnation?
Mr Alfonso Iannone
Lecture Theatre

Before answering whether or not we'll still be human in the future, it might be worth contemplating whether we will ultimately be the ones who decide. This lecture will explore the struggles of fate versus free will and religious orthodoxy versus sceptical enquiry in the context Christopher Marlowe's Dr Faustus – the tragic tale of a heroic humanist… or a very human fool.

Alfonso Iannone studied English Literature and Italian at the University of Edinburgh and joined the English Department of George Watson's College in 2008 where he is now Assistant Principal Teacher of English.

Wednesday 21 September – 7.00pm

Caritas Lecture: Future Perfect? Will We Still Be Human in the 21st Century? (ticketed event)
Prof Robert Winston
Assembly Hall

Prof. Lord Winston is a world-renowned fertility expert, an acclaimed author, and one of Britain's best known faces of science. A pioneer of in-vitro fertilisation (IVF) and treatment of female reproductive diseases, he is an outspoken critic of their commercialization. A passionate believer in science education, he has taught physicians from 80 countries and is a gifted communicator of often complex science to the public, through popular science books, TV programs, and lectures.

Today Professor of Science and Society and Emeritus Professor of Fertility Studies at Imperial College London, he is engaged in collaborative research with the California Institute of Technology to understand germline stem cell development. He is also involved in research aimed at characterizing human embryo development using state-of-the-art techniques in collaboration with The National Phenome Centre at Imperial College London. Created Baron Winston of Hammersmith in 1995, he is an active member of the House of Lords, where he advocates for greater funding for Britain's Health Service. He is a past chairman of the influential House of Lords Select Committee on Science and Technology and a current board member of the Parliamentary Office of Science and Technology.

Tuesday 27 September – 9.00am

Past Imperfect
Mr Erwin James
Music Auditorium

Erwin James is a Guardian columnist and editor of Inside Time, the national newspaper for people in prison. He is the author of three books and became a writer whilst serving life imprisonment – and was released after serving 20 years. He went to prison an inarticulate and ill-educated individual with, in his own words, "massive failings to overcome". After encouragement from a prison psychologist he embarked on a programme of part-time education. Six years later he graduated with the Open University and his first article for a national newspaper, The Independent, appeared in 1994. In 1995 he won first prize in the annual Koestler Awards for prose and he began writing a regular column for The Guardian in 2000. A year after his release from prison in 2004 he became a trustee of the Prison Reform Trust and in September 2009 he became a trustee of the Alternatives to Violence Project Britain. He is a patron of a number of offender rehabilitation charities, a Fellow of the Royal Society for the Encouragement of the Arts (FRSA) and an Honorary Master of the Open University.

Friday 30 September – 1.35pm

Future Perfect: The Role of the Writer
Ms Jackie Kay MBE FRSE
Music Auditorium

Whatever the future holds for humankind, the role of the writer remains an essential one in giving voice to human joy, as well as pain and despair.

Jackie Kay, who was born in Edinburgh and grew up in Glasgow, is the third modern Makar, or Scottish Poet Laureate. She is also the Professor of Creative Writing at the University of Newcastle. She has published five collections of poetry including 'The Adoption Papers', and is one of the Scottish Text authors for National 5 English. She has also published novels, collections of short stories and an autobiographical work.

Wednesday 5 October – 12.45pm

The Future's Perfect – A Hedonistic Approach to Sustainable Design
Mr Richard Graham
Lecture Theatre

What will the future look like and how can we plan to be more sustainable in the way we live our lives in the future?

This lecture is intended to challenge the idea that designing a more sustainable future, will be a future where being sustainable results in having to make difficult choices and ultimately going without. The Hedonistic approach to sustainability looks at an approach that gives us beautiful, functional and enjoyable designs, which are also sustainable in their use of resources and consumption of energy. The lecture will show examples of different examples of hedonistic design ranging from new buildings to everyday products, which will leave us both positive and hopeful about the future.

Thursday 6 October – 9.00am

The Future of Film and Media in the Digital Age
Dr Pasquale Iannone
Lecture Theatre

A lecture on film and media in the digital age, in particular the burgeoning area of the digital video essay (videographic film studies). This is a recent development in film and TV analysis where critics and scholars reflect on and explore media texts by remixing images and sounds from the texts themselves. As part of the talk, Dr Iannone will discuss the work of some of the key practitioners in the field such as Kevin B Lee and Kogonada.

Monday 10 October – 1.35pm

Future Perfect and the Irish Question
Professor Alvin Jackson
Lecture Theatre

Professor Jackson has been Sir Richard Lodge Professor of History at the University of Edinburgh since 2005. He was Head of the School of History, Classics and Archaeology at Edinburgh for nearly four years (2010–13) and has recently served as Dean of Research and Depute Head of the College of Humanities and Social Science. Before this, he studied Modern History at Corpus Christi College and Nuffield College, Oxford, before teaching at University College Dublin, Queen's University Belfast and at Boston College, Massachusetts, where he spent an academic year as John Burns Visiting Professor. His most recent books are The Two Unions: Ireland, Scotland and the Survival of the United Kingdom (OUP: 2012) and the Oxford Handbook of Modern Irish History (OUP: 2014).

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